Newsman: The Billionaire Elon Musk acquired a 9% stake in Twitter to become its largest shareholder. A U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing made public on Monday says the event triggering the filing happened March 14. His stake meets the criteria for being a long-term “passive” investor, one looking to minimize buying and selling of the shares. It’s unclear just when Musk bought the stake.
Twitter’s stock surged more than 28% Monday. Since March 14, the date listed on filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, shares of Twitter are up nearly 50% meaning that Musk’s investment has paid handsomely, so far.
Musk told his millions of followers on Twitter that he was “ giving serious thought ” to creating his own social media platform, and has clashed repeatedly with financial regulators about his use of Twitter.
Tesla CEO Musk’s revelation about his stake in Twitter shares comes two days after Tesla Inc. posted first-quarter delivery numbers. While the company delivered 310,000 vehicles in the period, the figure was slightly below expectations.
Musk’s ultimate aim of 73.5 million share purchase, worth about $3 billion, is not known. But he is questioning the social media platform’s dedication to free speech and the First Amendment. Musk has not spoken specifically about how he would change rules at Twitter, but the social media platform’s history of suspensions and bans is well documented.
Yet in late March Musk, who has 80 million Twitter followers and is very active on the site, questioned free speech on Twitter and whether the platform is undermining democracy.
Yet Musk has also raised the possibility, publicly before his massive and loyal Twitter following, that he could create a rival social media network.
Musk is locked into a bitter dispute with the SEC over his ability to post on Twitter. His lawyer has contended in court motions that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is infringing on the Tesla CEO’s First Amendment rights.
In October of 2018, Musk and Tesla agreed to pay $40 million in civil fines and for Musk to have his tweets approved by a corporate lawyer after he tweeted about having the money to take Tesla private at $420 per share.
The funding was far from secured and the electric vehicle company remains public, but Tesla’s stock price jumped. The settlement specified governance changes, including Musk’s ouster as board chairman, as well as pre-approval of his tweets. The SEC brought a securities fraud charge, alleging that Musk was manipulating the stock price with his posts.
Musk’s lawyer is now asking a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan to throw out the settlement, contending that the SEC is harassing him and infringing on his First Amendment rights.
The SEC responded in a court motion, saying it has legal authority to subpoena Tesla and Musk about his tweets, and that Musk’s move to throw out the settlement is not valid.
The SEC also disclosed that it is investigating Musk’s Nov. 6, 2021 tweets that asked followers whether he should sell 10% of his Tesla stake. The commission confirmed that it issued administrative subpoenas while investigating whether Musk and Tesla are complying with disclosure controls in the 2018 agreement.
Musk ended up selling more than 15 million shares worth roughly $16.4 billion. With some sales in late December, Musk is close to selling 10%.